Brodie Copeland and his dad went to Nice, France on vacation.
They will return to Lakeway, Texas in coffins.
Copeland, 11, and his 51-year-old father, Sean, are among the at least 84 people killed in an attack on Bastille Day revelers, their family announced Friday. They were on a European vacation that began in Spain before moving on to the south of France. Brody was cooling off in the waters of the Riviera just hours before he joined hundreds of spectators on the Promenade des Anglais to watch fireworks for France’s national holiday, according to a Facebook post.
That’s when a large white truck driven by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian immigrant, plowed into the crowd. By the next morning, 84 people were dead—including 10 other children—and 50 more were critically injured. Bouhlel’s zigzag murder mission only ended when a heroic policewoman jumped in front of the truck, allowing police to shoot and kill Bouhlel through the windshield.
It was too late for the Copelands, though. The father and son were as close together on that promenade as they were after Little League baseball games that Brodie played in and Sean used to coach.
Family friend Bill Bishop told The Daily Beast that he had joined the Copelands in Florida for a baseball tournament just last week.
“Sean was a great guy and his son was into baseball and acting. Just good all around people,” he said.
The trip to Europe, which began in Pamplona, Spain, was going to be the highlight of the Copelands’ summer.
“They’ve been talking about the trip, running with the bulls,” Bishop said. “They were excited for their three weeks vacation. It’s obviously cut short now.”
Bishop said he learned the Copelands died when the family called his home.
“We found out yesterday. They started calling us yesterday. Now we’re just watching the news. It’s hard for the kids to understand, hard for all of us I guess.”
Bishop said he is more concerned with the Copeland family, though.
“Kim, the mom, and everyone else is OK, they just want support and are trying to get everyone home and back to Austin,” he said.
Bishop said Brodie was the only child of Sean and Kim Copeland; Sean had two other children from a previous marriage, Austin and Megan.
The Hill Country Baseball Club’s Facebook page became an instant memorial to the Copelands.
“Nobody deserves this type of fate, especially not such a wonderful family. You are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. Rest in peace, Brodie and Sean, you will be remembered by many,” the club wrote.
A teammate seconded, writing, “Sean and Brodie touched our lives in so many ways. Such a good man and a great kid and teammate.”
Other tributes came in from as far away as New Zealand’s Ripken All Stars baseball team and people in Belgium and France, where terrorist attacks have become as predictable as holidays.
The Lenval foundation children’s hospital said it treated 50 children and teenagers injured in the attack, including two who died at the hospital. Injuries included fractures and head injuries akin to those suffered in severe car accidents. The hospital has one of France’s largest pediatric emergency units, and parents of children already being treated were asked to leave in order to make way for the victims. Footage circulating of the rampage shows adults racing with strollers to get out of the path of the killer truck. Early Friday, debris at the bloody scene included abandoned children’s toys and empty, broken strollers. Among French parents, the holiday is one when children are allowed to stay up past their usual bedtimes to see pyrotechnics light up skies across the republic.
Twenty-eight children visiting Nice from a school in Berlin are reportedy unaccounted for.
“All I can say is that a school class was in Nice—I can’t give you any further information at this point because we have no further information yet,” an official quoted by ITV News said. “I ask for your understanding that we will of course inform the parents before we inform the media so that parents don’t get their information from the media. I ask for your understanding. We are after all talking about schoolchildren here.”